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Lake Kariba is a large, man-made lake and reservoir located on the Zambezi river, about halfway between the river's source and mouth, about 1300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean. The lake lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its northeastern end, flooding a former gorge on the Zambezi River.The Zimbabwean town of Kariba was built for construction workers on the lake's dam, while some other settlements such as Milbibezi in Zimbabwe and Siavongo and Sinazongwe in Zambia have grown up to house people displaced by the rising waters.


Physical characteristics - Contents

Lake Kariba is over 220 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers in width. It covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers and its storage capacity is an immense 185 cubic kilometers. The mean depth of the lake is 29 meters; the maximum depth is 97 meters. The enormous mass of water (approximately 180,000,000,000,000 kilograms) is believed to have caused induced seismicity in the seismically active region, including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitude on the Richter scale.The lake is home to several islands, includig Chete Island, Sekula and Chikanka.


Ecology - Contents

Before Lake Kariba was filled, the existing vegetation was burned, creating a thick layer of fertile soil on land that would become the lake bed. As a result the ecology of Lake Kariba is vibrant. A number of fish species have been introduced to the lake, notably the sardine-like kapenta (transported from Lake Tanganyika), which now supports a thriving commercial fishery. Gamefish, particularly Tigerfish, were also introduced in order to encourage tourism. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe are now attempting to develop the tourism industry along their respective coasts of Lake Kariba.
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